Herbal Recipes

Elderberry Syrup

August 4, 2014

Known for it’s virus fighting capabilities, elderberry syrup packs a powerful punch to the cold and flu! And it is so easy to make your own!

Elderberry Syrup
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Cold and flu season is right around the corner!

Well, not exactly, but it is a great idea to be prepared ahead of time so you know what to do if and when a virus does attack your house.

I wasn’t actually planning on posting elderberry syrup for at least another month, but as it happens, there is a local outbreak of the hand, foot, and mouth virus in our area pretty bad. I wanted to give my girls’ immune systems a bit of an upper hand against it in case it happened to spread to us, so we have been enjoying plenty of bone broth based soups, making sure we stick to bedtimes for our rest, taking our probiotics, and I also made up some of this elderberry syrup.

Elderberry Syrup
No one likes their kids to be sick, but I’ll be honest, I really don’t fret about it. I don’t intend on keeping my kids in a bubble, so it is inevitable that they will come in contact with bugs. But that doesn’t mean they have to be out for the count for days on end. Giving their bodies the tools they need to have immune systems that operate effectively is key, and if it just so happens that a virus doesn’t get swept up right away, there are natural ways to put up a good fight so they can be back to playing again soon.

Elderberries are well known for specifically being very powerful against viruses. Elderberries work well at giving the immune system a boost to fight off the flu faster and more efficient.

Elderberry Syrup
You can find elderberry syrups and even tinctures lining the shelves of most health food stores, and even some conventional grocery stores. I have always been a bit leery of the shelf life on the syrups specifically, along with the other ingredients that usually end up on the list. Not to mention the sticker shock at some of them!

I like adding rose hips to the simmering pot of elderberries since they are a good source of immune supporting vitamin C. It has a very pleasant, kid friendly taste as well so it works well in this syrup.

Elderberry Syrup
Making your own elderberry syrup is not only super simple, but it doesn’t take a lot of time. I like knowing exactly what is in the syrup, and knowing where my berries are sourced from. I have been making elderberry syrup for years, and despite germy preschool rooms, green snot nose library times, and multiple family get togethers over the holiday season, and sort of bug we encounter is very short lived from 24 to 48 hours. It is not solely based on the elderberry syrup, but I do think it gives them an upper hand. As you can imagine my number one priority is always nutrient dense food so their bodies can function well in the first place.
5.0 from 1 reviews
Elderberry Syrup
  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • ¼ cup dried rosehips (optional but gives additional immune boosting vitamin c)
  • 3 ½ cups filtered water
  • ¼ cup or more to taste raw honey (optional – if you plan to give this to your one year old leave this out as raw honey is not recommended until they turn 2. Your "syrup" will be a little runnier but you will still have the benefit of the elderberries.)
  1. Put the elderberries, optional rosehips, and water in a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a low simmer for 45 minutes WITHOUT a lid.
  3. Turn the heat off and mash up the elderberries and rosehips with a potato masher.
  4. Strain out the elderberries and rosehips and give them a good squeeze to get all the liquid out. Either strain in a tea towel and squeeze, or a mesh strainer and use a spoon to squish them down. A French press works well too.
  5. Store the syrup in a pint mason jar in the fridge for 3 months.


  • Doseage while ill is 1 tsp hourly for children, or 1 TB for adults. When we are not ill, but it is during the cold and flu season and we may have been around some virus/flu, I will give 1 tsp daily for a week to the kids, and 1 TB daily for a week for my husband and I for preventative measures.
  • I actually prefer to use my French press to strain out the syrup. I use it to make herbal infusions/teas, and of course coffee too.
  • Here are my tips on serving it to the kids! I use a medicine syringe because the syrup stains. They do take it off a spoon no problem but I just have accidently dripped too many times and ruined shirts! It is also delicious stirred into soaked oatmeal with berries, smoothies, popsicles, or whole plain yogurt!
  • Here is a trustworthy source for your elderberries and rose hips if you don’t have them locally foraged.
  • Here is a recipe for nourishing cold bug fighting bone broth to help your family through an illness. Slow cooker method too!
  • Other things I like to use during illess is this properly sourced vitamin C. I do also use this vitamin D3 liquid daily even when not ill. Fermented cod liver oil is the best source for vitamin D, however some in my family do not tolerate it well, so I have the vitamin D dropper on hand. I have brought my D levels from in the low 20’s to well above 60 using the liquid D3 in the last year. Living in an area where we only see the sunshine 6 months out of the year, we really need to supplement vitamin D in our family if we want immune systems that function well.
  • And since most of our immune system is in our gut, making sure we are eating fermented foods is important to ensure health gut flora. I also like to rotate probiotic supplements especially during the cold and flu season. Rotating helps introduce new flora. Here, here, and here, are the probiotics I like to use.

This post was shared at Fat Tuesday, and The Homestead Barnhop!

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  • Reply Linda Spiker August 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I am making this next week!

  • Reply Jessica August 5, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    You are such a good mama!

  • Reply Anna August 6, 2014 at 4:50 am

    I have to say I have never tried elderberries before! I will have to get some next time.

  • Reply Daja @The Provision Room August 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Last year we made a cordial from elderberries and pomegranate juice. It was amazing!!!! And so immunity boosting!

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  • Reply Megan August 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    If you order from Mountain Rose…how many batches do you get out of 1 lb or elderberries and 4oz of rose hips?

    • Reply Renee Kohley August 24, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Megan!

      That 1lb bag of elderberries is pretty big – it takes me 2 winters to go through it and I would say I make it monthly from about Sept/Oct until March. I get the bigger bag of the Rosehips because I use it almost daily to make infusions or teas but I would say the 4 oz bag should get you through the winter for just the elderberry syrup. I hope that helps!

      • Reply Shelley September 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

        I bought one of those 1 lb. bags a few years ago and didn’t use it up. Do you think it is not potent anymore and I should just compost it, or is it usable? I had it stored in the basement in a tightly covered glass jar. Also, if I was to pick wild elderberries, how much would I use of the fresh berries compared to dried? Thanks for the recipe!

        • Reply Renee Kohley September 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

          Hi Shelley! Dried herbs do lose their potency over time, but I certainly wouldn’t waste what you have. It will still have some properties. If you use fresh elderberries you can double the amount – so use a full cup of fresh elderberries vs the 1/2 cup dried. I hope that helps!

          • Shelley September 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

            Thank you for your response! I see a lot of elderberries along the roads here ready to pick.

          • Renee Kohley September 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

            Wonderful Shelley! If you pick more than you need for making one batch you can dry them yourself so they last longer – they also freeze fresh very well.

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  • Reply Sarah September 1, 2014 at 2:28 pm


    I’m making this right now. When do I add the honey?

    Thanks, Renee!


    • Reply Renee Kohley September 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Hi Sarah! Add it in after you strain out the berries. The elderberry infusion should be nice and warm and will melt the honey nicely.

      • Reply Sarah September 1, 2014 at 9:15 pm

        Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! 🙂

  • Reply Julia September 11, 2014 at 11:35 am

    What a fantastic post with so much great info! Thank you!!!
    I’ve been buying the syrup and putting it in my kids apple sauce and yogurt but I would love to try your recipe of making my own! My only question is- how do you store it? Dark cool cubbard or fridge and have you tried freezing it? TIA 🙂

    • Reply Renee Kohley September 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Juilia! That’s great! And making your own will be much more effective anyway 🙂 Store your elderberry syrup in the fridge up to 3 months. I hope that helps!

  • Reply Savannah October 12, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    It’s not clear at what point do I add the honey? Also if I were to make this into gummis, how many would an adult and a child need to eat.

    • Reply Renee Kohley October 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Savannah 🙂 Add your honey after you strain the berries out – you don’t want raw honey to be heated/cooked so just add it in after and it will be warm enough to melt it. Depending on how much syrup you put in your gummy mixture, I would figure children would need no more than a tsp or so serving per day and adults a TB. I hope that helps!

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  • Reply Melissa November 20, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I’m making this today!

    Side note: do you give all your girls the vitamin D supplement? If so, every day? We have tried cod liver oil here…my daughter will take it but I end up gagging with a stomach ache…. Thanks!!

    • Reply Renee Kohley November 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Melissa! Great!

      I do supplement all the girls. We live in a very northern state and about half the year is pretty cold and dark so I really think it is important for us to do from about September until April or May. I do supplement them everyday. I purchase cod liver oil when I can afford it but one of my girls doesn’t digest it well so it isn’t super often.

      • Reply Melissa November 20, 2014 at 3:06 pm

        Great, thanks! How much do you give & how do your girls take it?

        Ps: I Love Love all of your recipes!

        • Reply Renee Kohley November 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm

          I use this Vitamin D3 dropper and they get one drop – I just put it on their tongue as it is tasteless. YOu can stir it into something if you wish though! (Affil link :: http://amzn.to/1r2hTJR )

  • Reply Liz November 24, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    How long does this keep if I make it without the honey?

    • Reply Renee Kohley November 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Hi Liz! With the honey or without the honey I would have it used up in about 3 months. The herbs will start losing their potency.

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  • Reply Pris January 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Hi there I’m trying to get my friend to try this, she showed me the Gaia version and that has 4800 mg per teaspoom. I’m wondering how potent 1/2 of blueberries would be I guess in milligrams. Thanks!

    • Reply Renee Kohley January 29, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Pris 🙂 I am not sure of the potency. My biggest problem with elderberry syrup on the shelf is that herbs lose potency over time. You never know how long that bottle has been sitting there, so I just prefer to make it fresh. Does that make sense?

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  • Reply aysin May 5, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Recipe looks great — making it as we speak to try to get over this cough we can’t seem to shake. Just your comment about raw honey: I thought it was not recommended until ONE year of age, not two?

    • Reply Renee Kohley May 5, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Aysin! I see both 1 year and 2 years, and so in my post I want to err on the side of caution. I choose to start raw local honey from a farmer I trust around 1 year with my children.

  • Reply Swarna September 18, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Hi Renee,

    Thank you for the wonderful post with a wealth of information! I’ve ordered all the supplies to make this syrup. I am seeing a lot of post on your Insta with nettle infusion for your girls. Can you please also let me know how you make the nettle infusion teas?

    Thanks a lot:)

  • Reply Swarna September 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Renee,

    I just received all my herbs for the teas and my new french press! When you get a chance please share how you make/ (your method) the nettle infusion teas for your girls? I cannot wait to try these teas.

    Thanks in advance:)

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  • Reply Robyn December 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks, Renee! Looking forward to making this today! I bough a 1lb bag. How should I best store them once the bag is open? Thanks!

  • Reply Mary December 13, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    How would I go about making this in the Instant Pot?

    • Reply Renee Kohley December 13, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Mary! I am pretty new to the IP so I am not sure. Herbs are quite delicate though and you have to heat them gently and over periods of time to ensure the properties of the herb stay in tact. I am not sure how that would work in a pressure cooker. I am sorry I’m not much help there!

      • Reply Renee Kohley December 13, 2015 at 7:28 pm

        And now I’m sitting here Mary thinking about the possibility of using the slow cooker option on the IP for the slow simmer of it…hmmm I think that might be an option but again I am really so new to using the IP. Just my thoughts!

  • Reply Mary January 19, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    I make this in my Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker), thanks for the recipe

  • Reply Sarah July 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    How long did you set it for? On high pressure?

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    When do we add the honey??

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